Several years ago, Patagonia started its Worn Wear program. The program was based around Patagonia’s corporate values of extending the lifespan of every garment it creates. The Worn Wear program will repair your Patagonia clothing, and if the clothing is beyond repair, it will recycle it for you.
A few years ago, Patagonia decided to take it’s Worn Wear program on the road, literally. The company loaded up in a wooden truck and with a couple of seamstresses in tow, toured the country, repairing clothing along the way. All for free, and not just Patagonia clothing either, any clothing you had with a rip or a ruined zipper could be mended by the Patagonia team.
Here’s a video Patagonia created to give you a sense of why they take the Worn Wear program on the road:
As you might guess, this program has been wildly successful, and has expanded to stops outside the US, and within the US the Worn Wear road trip has grown to have it’s own tour of colleges. This is a very smart move by Patagonia because it lets the company connect with millennials on college campuses that will likely be even more receptive to the company’s reuse and recycle culture.
This is the one aspect of the Worn Wear road trips that’s always fascinated me. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the company to connect directly with its customers in a one-on-one setting, and convert them into brand advocates. As the employees are repairing the garments (for free), they are also talking to the customers about why they have the Worn Wear program, and why they believe so passionately in the value of repairing old garments rather than simply throwing them away and buying something new. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that Patagonia has to spread its culture and mission to other people, and win them over as advocates for those causes.
I recently came across a great case study that Amp Agency did as they helped Patagonia organize the road trip portion of the Worn Wear program. Here’s some key takeaways (These numbers appear to be from just one US tour, 21 stops):
- 88% merchandise sell-through rate during the road trip. Patagonia takes used clothing as part of the tour and sells it during stops on the road trip.
- 11,075 tour attendees
- 68,481 visitors to the Worn Wear landing page
What I love about the Worn Wear road trips is the ability it gives Patagonia to connect directly with current and potential customers. The seamstresses get to hear stories from the customers about how they ripped their Patagonia coat and what it means to them. In the process, those Patagonia workers get to give the customer back their coat almost as good as new, and along the way they get to explain what the Worn Wear program is and why it’s so important to Patagonia.
The Worn Wear road trips should be viewed as a way to build a long-term relationship with Patagonia customers who believe in the Worn Wear cause, and who will willingly spread it to other people. I’m not sure what Patagonia gives customers that have their clothing repaired during these stops. But at minimum, the brand should focus on ways to give these customers the option to mobilize on behalf of Patagonia and to tell other customers about the Worn Wear program. Customers who have their clothing repaired by Patagonia (for free) during these Worn Wear stops are going to naturally be very appreciative toward the brand for helping them. They will be very receptive to the Worn Wear message, and will be open to telling more people about what the program is, and why it exists.
If you go to the Worn Wear landing page, you do get a pop-up invite to get email updates:
If I were advising Patagonia, I would suggest they view the road trip portion of the Worn Wear program as a way to find like-minded customers who will champion the ideals of the Worn Wear program. I would even set aside a small area where Patagonia employees can talk to customers about how they can help nurture and grow the Worn Wear program. This is a message that many people who come to the Worn Wear road stops would be receptive to. These people would want to know how they can help Patagonia grow the Worn Wear program, and Patagonia should think about how they can better give these people an opportunity to help, during these road stops.
If your company is trying to decide how to create an initiative as successful as the Worn Wear road trip, you have to understand why it works. The Worn Wear road trip stops aren’t focused on promoting the Patagonia brand, they are focused on helping Patagonia’s customers, and communicating Patagonia’s core values to its customers.
It’s worth noting that even though this initiative isn’t specifically build to increase sales, it will do just that. It drives sales during the events, but also gives customers who have had their garments repaired an incentive to spread positive word of mouth about the brand. This will result in additional sales, and additional positive PR for the brand.
By putting its customers and values first, Patagonia will realize increased sales as well. What a novel idea!